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The first step to becoming an engineer is to get the proper credentials required. The easiest way to get started is to earn an undergraduate degree in engineering. International students should consider becoming an engineering major while enrolled as an undergraduate.
International students who declare themselves as engineering majors are taking a huge step towards future career success. An undergraduate degree in engineering is the introduction to a career in engineering. By selecting a good school, finding out which field of engineering interests them most, and applying themselves to the program, international students will come out of undergraduate school as a highly educated engineer.
The requirements for an engineering major varies by university. However, most have the basic structure of engineering prerequisites and core courses. To begin with, students pursuing an undergraduate degree will need to take 60 general education courses. General education courses are the same for all students, no matter the degree program. These courses cover virtually every topic and provide introductory principles to each. At some point in the first two years of study an international student should meet with an academic advisor and declare engineering as a major. After these core courses are completed a student will start on their major class requirements that focus on the most important engineering material.
So what classes does an engineering major need to take while enrolled as an undergraduate? There are several different classes that are made prerequisite, core, and elective courses. Each class must be completed with a passing grade of "C" or better. The first subject that is important to engineering majors is mathematics. Students are expected to take courses in Statistics, Algebra and multiple classes in Calculus. Another subject that is required is Chemistry. General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry are usually both required. Physics is one of the most important sections of the engineering curriculum. Physics usually come in two different parts. The first section covers Calculus Based Physics I and the second covers Physics II.
Yet, the most important part of engineering coursework are classes directly related to engineering principles. The classes in engineering will give undergraduate students a broad understanding of their discipline. Classes include: Dynamics, Analysis of Structures, Mechanics of Materials, and Fluid Mechanics. Depending on the exact field a student chooses to study, there will be certain "major courses" that make up the final semesters in undergraduate school. Civil engineering majors for example can expect to take classes like: Geotechnical Engineering, Foundation Engineering, Design of Steel Structures, and Design of Reinforced Concrete. Usually the final course of an undergraduate program is called the Capstone course, which goes over material from all the courses taken in the major courses. This class is used to reinforce the principles of engineering and make sure future graduates are prepared for careers. Usually, the Capstone course concludes with an exam that must be passed to graduate. Additional courses in the final two years of study include electives, which are classes outside the engineering department intended for students to get a broad education while having the opportunity to explore new and fun subjects.
The typical length for an undergraduate degree is four years. However, many time students choose to complete the degree in five years. The reason for this is because of the difficulty of many of the courses. Engineering requires very difficult courses in topics like Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math. To stay on a four-year plan, students will need to take 15 credits a semester, or 30 credits an academic year. Because the courses are so intensive, some students find it hard to carry 15 credits of engineering classes and instead graduate in the five year plan.
One major use for an undergraduate degree in engineering is to go on to complete a PhD or Master’s degree program. In order to qualify for these programs, international students must have an undergraduate degree. An engineering major in undergraduate school will build a strong foundation of engineering and be able to easily transition into a graduate program.
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